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Europe and Europeans

Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet during a meeting of the ​Common Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg (France) in 1958. HAEU, JP 312 – Photo: Unknown.

Jacques Delors (FR)
President of the European Commission 1985-1995. HAEU, INT 142

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, a short but powerful statement made by the French Foreign Minister, Robert Schuman, on the 9th of May 1950. The declaration, inspired by Jean Monnet and drafted by Schuman and his close advisers, initiated the process of European integration with its vision of a joint French and German coal and steel production. This venture would be managed by a common High Authority, within the framework of an organisation open to the participation of other European countries. The European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) was established in 1951 by  Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany: for the first time, national States decided to transfer some sovereign rights to a new supranational institution.​

The Schuman declaration is a turning point in the history of Europe. Ideas and concepts were formulated in the declaration, which were also incorporated into the subsequent European Treaties, beginning with the Paris Treaty establishing the ECSC in 1951 until the last Treaty of Lisbon in 2007. Essentially, the declaration includes not only objectives like striving for peace, overcoming national rivalries and accomplishing mutual solidarity, but also a blueprint for a closer integration of the Member States based on federalism.

The exhibition “Europe and Europeans 1950>2020: 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration” sets out to raise awareness of the importance of the Schuman Declaration within the history of European integration, to stimulate reflection on its relevance in today’s Europe, and to encourage debate on the history of the European Union (EU) and its future. The visitor is encouraged to take a journey through European history, which develops into two distinct but inter-connecting paths.​​

The first path is guided by key sentences of the Declaration that give the title to five thematic sections. Through a selection of images and documents held in the Historical Archives of the European Union (HAEU), the visitor can experience some of the most relevant political, economic, social and cultural developments of the last 70 years of European history. The second path allows for a meeting with people, as they were involved in or affected by the process of European integration, with a view to reflecting on what it means to be European in a dialogue between past and present.

Founding fathers of the EU: Robert Schuman © European Union, 2012 – Source: EC
Founding fathers of the EU: Jean Monnet © European Union, 2012 – Source: EC